I remember having people say to me that girls can’t be a guitar player or a bass player because they can’t “hold it right.” And I’ve heard so many times people say things to drummers like, “Girl drummers just don’t hit hard enough.” It’s this very specific thought process where, for whatever reason, girls can’t do this thing. [But] clearly they can; it’s just that they’re not encouraged to. If girls were sitting in a bedroom from the age of 10 like all of the guys that are sitting there learning crazy guitar scales when they’re 10, they can very easily reach those heights.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE MOST VISIBLE WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW — AND PERHAPS IN CULTURE, IN GENERAL — ARE PEOPLE LIKE KATY PERRY AND MILEY CYRUS? DO YOU TALK ABOUT THESE PEOPLE WITH THE GIRLS ROCK! CAMPERS? Yes, we definitely talk about them with the girls in Girls Rock! and many of them are big fans and many of our volunteers are big fans as well. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the point is understanding the media, understanding that these folks are packaged a particular way to appeal to a particular demographic.
And it’s interesting too, because [these artists] show how there are a lot of mixed messages that women in our culture are receiving. Katy Perry can have a song or video like “California Gurls,” but then also have a song like “Firework.” And so they seem in many cases to be sort of contradictory. But it’s also echoing a lot of messages that [girls and women] get in other places in the culture, like if they’re reading a magazine and on one page it’s telling them ways to increase their self esteem, the next page is telling them that they need to buy some hair product to make them look better.
IS THERE A PARTICULAR FEMALE MUSICAL ROLE MODEL OUT THERE NOW THAT YOU WOULD ENCOURAGE FOLKS TO CHECK OUT? Right now, one of the most interesting people making music that I feel like would fit more in the pop genre is Janelle Monae. Because she, I think, is creating very catchy music that’s also. . .
incorporating lots of different genres. Also, her presentation is such that it’s not necessarily so traditional. She’ll wear a button-up shirt and look almost androgynous in some ways. But she definitely has her way, her own style, and she is owning it.
[But] I have mixed emotions about her, [and] the fact that she is now a CoverGirl spokesperson. I think it’s great that they are reaching out to people who are maybe not traditionally attractive. But. . . CoverGirl is still out there [and] their job is to make women feel bad about themselves and then feel like they need to buy their product to make themselves feel better. For info on Ladies Rock! Camp enrollment, go to girlsrockri.org. The Ladies Rock! showcase will take place at on Sunday, November 10 at 7 pm at Firehouse 13 (41 Central St, Providence).